Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (19-15-4, 42 points, 7th place Metropolitan Division) @ Philadelphia Flyers (20-13-6, 46 points, 3rd place Metropolitan Division)
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
How to Watch: Sportsnet Pittsburgh and NBC Sports Philadelphia in the local markets, game will be broadcast on the NHL Network nationally
Pens’ Path Ahead: The Pens have been going pretty hard lately and after tonight have their first two-day break from games since December 28-29. Their schedule lightens up with only five games from Jan 9-25, with the next one coming on Thursday at home against Vancouver. Then Pittsburgh hits the road again to meet Carolina on Saturday night.
Opponent Track: The Flyers have been kinda meh lately, winning only two of their last eight games (2-3-3). They did win their last game out, 3-2 over Calgary on the strength of a Travis Konecny third period shorthanded go-ahead goal.
Season Series: The first two games of the season came earlier in December, with Philadelphia taking two extra time wins in three days (4-3 via shootout in Pittsburgh, 3-2 in OT in Philly). After tonight, there’s only one more regular season PIT/PHI game back in the ‘Burgh on February 25th.
Hidden Stat: Per Pens PR, Pittsburgh has an active five-game point streak against Philadelphia (3-0-2).
Getting to know the Flyers
Joel Farabee - Sean Couturier - Travis Konecny
Owen Tippett - Scott Laughton - Cam Atkinson
Tyson Foerster - Morgan Frost - Bobby Brink
Nic Deslauriers - Ryan Poehling - Garnet Hathaway
Cam York / Travis Sanheim
Nick Seeler / Sean Walker
Yegor Zamula / Rasmus Ristolainen
Goalies: Cam Hart and Samuel Ersson
Possible scratches: Marc Staal
IR: Ryan Ellis, Noah Cates
—After scoring a goal in each of the two December Pens/Flyers game, Foerster has no goals in the 15 games he’s played since.
—The Flyers have split the goaltending evenly lately; over the past eight games, Hart and Ersson have each started four. Perhaps similar to Pittsburgh, the backup has been playing a little better as of late than the starter, but Hart did stop 22/24 and earn the win against Calgary in the last game out. We’ll see if they try to get him hot with a start in consecutive games.
—Farabee and especially Konecny are the names the Pens should be circling on the board in their lockeroom ahead of this game. Since Christmas, Farabee has 1G+6A in six games. Konecny is going off even more with 5G+4A in the six games. Those names are no secret, since they are and have been the Flyers’ top offensive players for a while now, but extra attention needs to be paid with how productive and effective the two have been lately.
—Morgan Frost seems to be the player that coach John Tortorella has zeroed in on to love to hate this year. Frost has gotten occasional and seemingly randomly healthy scratches a few times. Frost was again out of the lineup on Thursday via a coaching decision and reportedly stood up for himself in a meeting with Torts on Friday. That action may have gotten him a chance to play on Saturday, and Frost made the most of it with two points.
Couts as good as new?
There were many question marks and a murky future for Sean Couturier, who before this season had not played NHL hockey since December 2021 after dealing with quite the issues from back surgery (leaking spinal fluid? No thanks!) Couturier is back and just about as good as ever in 2023-24, and almost as if he never left at all. His return and top form is a major reason the Flyers are improved over last season.
Sean Couturier's return this season after nearly two years off:— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) January 6, 2024
•With him on ice at 5v5 the Flyers have 57.2% of shots, 61% of high danger chances, and are up 33-23
•Been outshot at 5v5 in just 9 out of 37 games
•Just 2 goals against in his 53:10 PK min
Man is defensively incredible. pic.twitter.com/GdaKcRWZMV— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) January 7, 2024
Which is an easy transition into a new talking point that: Reilly Smith and Evgeni Malkin better be ready to go tonight. The Pens’ second line hasn’t done a whole lot lately. The Flyers have the favorable home matchups, there won’t be any doubts that Sidney Crosby will be seeing a lot of Couturier’s No. 14 shadowing him all night.
And now for the Penguins
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Rickard Rakell
Reilly Smith - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Drew O’Connor - Lars Eller - Valtteri Puustinen
Jansen Harkins - Noel Acciari - Jeff Carter
Marcus Pettersson / Kris Letang
P.O. Joseph / Erik Karlsson
Ryan Graves / Chad Ruhwedel
Goalies: Tristan Jarry and Alex Nedeljkovic
Potential scratches: Radim Zohorna, Ryan Shea
IR: Matt Nieto (recovering from knee surgery), John Ludvig (upper body injury)
—The Pens practiced in Pittsburgh yesterday before making the short flight across the state, all expected players were present and accounted for after Saturday night’s loss to Buffalo.
EK talks Flyers
Erik Karlsson talked about the Flyers’ form and what the Pens will be looking to do in order to bounce back to the close defeats they suffered to Philadelphia last month.
The Flyers won in the shootout and then in OT in the home-and-home with Pittsburgh in December. Erik Karlsson, on what the Penguins learned from that series:— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) January 7, 2024
“They're obviously having success right now. They're playing well, they're feeling confident, they work really hard, and…
Sid scoring on the road
Sidney Crosby’s scoring has traveled this year — 15 of the captain’s 22 goals this season have been in front of the adoring road fans.
All-time, Crosby has 26G+33A in 41 games played in Philadelphia, and as seen in the infographic a little further above, is the all-time leading goal and point scorer that the Flyers have ever seen.